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Wednesday, November 01, 2006 

US Trade Officials Praise Tory Plans To Kill Wheat Board

WINNIPEG -- U.S. trade officials said yesterday they are encouraged by the Conservative government's plans to end the Canadian Wheat Board's monopoly on export sales.

In a show of national bravado, Agriculture Minister Strahl dismissed the statements made by U.S. officials. "I've always said decisions about the Wheat Board should be made in Canada. I've not talked to anyone in the U.S. Trade Department about this at all, nor would I. They may be interested, but it's frankly none of their business."

The American Grain multinationals HATE the Canadian Wheat Board. To show their ideological allegiance to the Republican Bush Government, the Harper Conservatives are going to change the CWB even if it does hurt farmers in this country.

Globe and Mail


To show their ideological allegiance to the Republican Bush Government, the Harper Conservatives are going to change the CWB even if it does hurt farmers in this country.

Why do you have to make this about Harper and Bush. It's absolutely the SADDEST argument anyone could ever make. The Conservatives like the free market, they don't like collective purchasing and selling, period.

You've done a great job of covering the story, voicing your opposition, which some farmers agree with and others don't (as much as you consider them united in opposition), but to try to make this about Harper's allegiance to the Republicans it utter horseshit, and you know it. I'm sorry to see you toss your credibility like this.

Seriously, if the Harper government made a decision which you supported, but it was subsequently endorsed by anyone in the US, let alone GWB himself, I have a feeling you'd change your tune pretty quick.

NONSENSE - from the moment Bush invaded Iraq and Harper was leader of the Opposition he has aligned himself with Bush's foreign policy or have you not noticed that we are up to our necks in crap in Afghanistan. As for the economy exemplified by the Wheat Board issue, Harper would fit comfortably in the Republican party as a Member or even as an elected rep.

How can you not see the immediate and hard turn right that this country made the minute the bloody tories came into power.

Bush simply loves 'Steve' - it is mutual!

“Your country [the USA], and particularly your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration to people in this country and across the world."
- Conservative leader Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.

"Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country, boasting ever more loudly about its economy and social services to mask its second-rate status, led by a second-world strongman appropriately suited for the task."
- Stephen Harper in his article "It is time to seek a new relationship with Canada," December 12th, 2000.

"Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term, and very proud of it. Canadians make no connection between the fact that they are a Northern European welfare state and the fact that we have very low economic growth, a standard of living substantially lower than yours, a massive brain drain of young professionals to your country, and double the unemployment rate of the United States."
- Conservative leader Stephen Harper, then vice-president of the National Citizens Coalition, in a June 1997 Montreal meeting of the Council for National Policy, a right-wing American think tank.

"your conservative movement, is a light and an inspiration"
"Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country"
"Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term"

This is:
-Hard, hard right wing ideology.
-NOT the majority opinion in Canada.
-This is an extreme viewpoint.

Tip of the hat to:
'Far and Wide' for this:

Polls Indicate Canadian PM's Star Fading
By BETH DUFF-BROWN Associated Press Writer

November 01,2006 | TORONTO -- Canadian Conservatives who hitched their wagons to the White House are finding their popularity fading with those of their allies in Washington.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper and his Conservatives ousted the Liberal Party in January after nearly 13 years in office, pledging to thaw Ottawa's frozen relations with Washington and ease the country to the right on social and economic issues.

Canadians were eager to try someone new and improve ties with the U.S., though President Bush is widely disliked in this country. Now, with his poll numbers sagging, Harper's honeymoon appears to be over.

One poll released on Oct. 18 found that both the Liberals and Conservatives would each receive 32 percent of the vote if elections were held today, reaffirming similar results in another independent poll two weeks earlier.

The drop in Harper's popularity appears mainly due to a foreign policy that appears too aligned with Washington and the deaths of 34 Canadian soldiers this year in Afghanistan as part of the U.S.-led war on terrorism.

Some observers believe that once the Liberal Party chooses its new national leader in early December, Harper's government could be ripe for toppling.

"There is no question that the casualties in Afghanistan are, for the first time, causing Canadians to put a foreign defense policy issue at the forefront when they're making up their minds about the man running the government," said Rob Huebert, professor of political science at the University of Calgary in Harper's home province of Alberta.

"Having said that, casualties in a democratic society always bring numbers down."

Shortly after being sworn in earlier this year, Harper began keeping campaign promises to cut taxes, introduce tough anti-crime bills and end a long-simmering dispute with Washington over lumber tariffs. He also pledged to arm Canadian border agents, beef up the military and send more troops to fight in Afghanistan.

The Tories' poll numbers went up accordingly in the spring, with many Canadians proud of their decisive and fast-acting new leader. Harper seemed a refreshing change after Liberal Prime Minister Paul Martin, who was dubbed "Mr. Dithers" by opponents and supporters alike.

Harper, a dour and wonky evangelical Christian, still remains popular in parts of western Canada. Many conservative ranchers and oilmen praise his virtual abandonment of the Kyoto Protocol to cut greenhouse gases, his pledge to reconsider Washington's continental missile shield, and his intent to revisit the Liberal law that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide last year.

But his popularity is waning in Ontario and has taken a dive in Quebec, where The Strategic Council, a market-research firm that polls for The Globe and Mail and CTV television, found his numbers well below the three front-runners to head the Liberal Party. The poll of 1,000 people between Oct. 12-15 had a margin of error of 3.1 percent.

Many Quebecois, in particular the large Lebanese-Canadian community, were furious when Harper sided with Washington in July in support of Israel's initial attacks against Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon, saying the Jewish state had a right to defend itself.

"He needs to find issues that differentiate him from the United States," said Tim Woolstencroft of the Strategic Council. "Canadians want their U.S. relations to be harmonious, but Canadians also like to show that we're running our own independent foreign policy."

Harper attempted this when he personally called Bush to put him on notice that Ottawa would file a complaint over the treatment of Maher Arar, a Canadian who was wrongfully suspected of terrorist ties and sent by U.S. authorities to a Syrian prison for interrogation and torture.

At the same time, Woolstencroft said Harper didn't show enough moral outrage over Arar's treatment by U.S. officials, so his demands for an apology from Bush didn't resonate with Canadians.

Salon provides breaking news articles from the Associated Press as a service to its readers, but does not edit the AP articles it publishes.

© 2006 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Oh my,

If I hear someone bring up that 'light and inspiration' thing again... so what, so he was a fan of the US economy 10 years ago when Canada's was in the shitter. Trudeau was a seperatist. He's matured and moderated since, he hasn't destroyed health care, outlawed abortion, or done any of the other things that Harpophobics promised he would once he was in power. He's a long way to the left of the Democrats in the US.

Look, being against the Wheat Board is not only economically sound, it's pretty textbook right wing material. Sure, it's bad for SOME farmers, just like free trade is bad for some farmers. Farmers would be best off in the short term if we had massive subsidies and huge trade barriers. But that doesn't mean it's good economic policy. Harper is an fiscal conservative, and no fiscal conservative worth his/her salt would support a collective buying/selling arrangement. It has NOTHING TO DO WITH GEORGE W. BUSH, PERIOD!

Harper's not joining the New American Century club here, so lets tone the rhetoric down a notch, and criticize Harper based on why this policy is wrong, instead of the simplistic "It's wrong because the US likes it".

Who the fuck is Beth Duff-Brown?

I wonder if you believe that she's worth quoting because:

a)She is a Harper expert, and has extensive knowledge on the Canadian political landscape, or

b)She called Harper a wonky evangelical conservative?

I wonder... which provides more credibility here at Buckdog's Politics? A) or B)

Beth Duff-Brown said,
"Harper, a dour and wonky evangelical Christian, still remains popular in parts of western Canada."

Your part maybe, not mine.

Other dour wonkeys included with PMSH are Rob Anders, Jason Kenney, Ezra Levant, Stockwell Day.... see any patterns emerging amongst the Dour Wonkeys

Option A) or B)?

Which passes for credibility here?

a) informed opinions?

b) Harper bashing?

Ollie the truth hurts but yet, THE TRUTH SHALL SET YOU FREE! Step into the light!

Hahaha... can't argue with that I guess

AND... 'Harper bashing'??? come on ... you did 3 fictional 'dream sequence' posts with Layton to demean both him and his opinions .... but you want to paint me as a 'BAD' guy for 'bashing Harper'? - If you want to dish it out you have to be able to take it as well. Buck up.

Olaf - e-blog did a wonky when I corrected my bad spelling and yours ended up in front of mine... we will have that beer one day.

Now - don't you love the new phrase that our exchange has just given the blogosphere ....?

'Dour Wonkeys' !!!!

A beer indeed,


AND... 'Harper bashing'??? come on ... you did 3 fictional 'dream sequence' posts with Layton to demean both him and his opinions .... but you want to paint me as a 'BAD' guy for 'bashing Harper'? - If you want to dish it out you have to be able to take it as well.

Here's the difference - you quoted as an authority the opinion of someone no one has even heard of, where as I criticized Layton based on his opinions. I think it was Harper-bashing to call Harper a "wonky evangelical"... just like I'd call it Layton-bashing were someone to call Jack a "fruity pinko", without suggesting why he is either fruity or a pinko.

I'd have no problem if you criticized Harper - not because his opinions sometimes mesh with Americans, as if that were damning in itself, and not based on the ramblings of one obscure American reporter - but based on what he's said and his actually policies.

You usually do a good job of this (as i think I do a descent job of criticizing and ridiculing Layton), but I think the premises of this post (that Harper advocates the policy he does on the Wheat Board, not because he's a fiscal conservative but because he's trying to suck up to Bush) are completely off-base. That's all.

I've been trying to get some kind of understanding of this issue so...I did a fair amount of reading and now I have a headache.

What I've been able to find out is basically:

My country (the US) is whining because we cannot compete price-wise with Canada on wheat prices.

This is essentially because our wheat (and everything else here) travels through a gazillion hands, each of those hands needing to take their profit, before ever reaching any consumer of said product.

Apparently the one-agency-fits-all system in Canada has proved more efficient, at least in regards to being competetive in international markets. This is pissing off the few thousand residents of North Dakota who actually have a vested interest in this matter.

So, in the interest of "free" trade we are demanding you become as inefficient as we are so we can compete with you.

I'm sure I've missed a lot of talking points here as, I like most US residents outside of North Dakota, have no interests in the wheat-growing business but I did research enough to feel I got the gist of it. Leftdog?

Wow! good work! this is one of those wierd Canadian things that even Canadians struggle with. It really is almost as you have analyzed.

Sorta like a wheat 'credit union' where all the farmers pool their wheat (different types and qualities) and then the Wheat Board markets the pooled wheat to the world - selling in bulk at the best prices they can get, then the farmers are paid from the 'pool' - ALL of the middlemen are removed and yes, they all get MORE of the amount received.

We have some farmers along the American border who would like to whip across the 49th parallel and sell the odd load on those days when the US market may have a higher spot price.

The right wing ideologues (our Conservative party) has jumped on to this as a 'defense of the free market from the evils of collecive practices - even thought the history of the Wheat Board proves that Canadian farmers have totally maximized the amount they received by marketing this way (we call it 'single desk' marketing). It works but the ideologues are determined to let a bunch of middlemen get involved and take slices of the action for personal financial gain.

Olaf. I can make no apologies for totally disliking those Tories in government who are the remnants of the old Reform party. Harper is the leader of that group and I disagree with him on everything including the weather. My wild left wing voice is so rare in the blogosphere and I am up against a blizzard of wild right wing voices. So that is that and I am going to continue to dog Harper as long as he is Prime Minister because what he is all about is NOT what I and those close to me are all about. I don't like his ideas. I don't like his world view. I don't like his ideology. I do not like his policies. I do not like the Canada he wants to convert us to.

Go back to those quotes of his - the man absolutely HATES Canada as it is:
"Canada appears content to become a second-tier socialistic country"
"Canada is a Northern European welfare state in the worst sense of the term"

He hates the Canada he lives in and wants to change it massively. So don't be surpised when those of us who love Canada as it is currently configured FIGHT BACK. He should sorta piss off.


Fair enough, just making a general criticism about what I think a credible argument is based on (the policy itself) and not based on (speculation that the policy had something to do with Harper wanting to be American).

Otherwise, you can feel free to disagree with Harper all you want, you're actually pretty convincing at times. Although I'd hardly consider yours as so rare in the blogosphere and I am up against a blizzard of wild right wing voices. I think there are just as many blogging dippers/progressive bloggers combined (and a fair number of anti-Harper Liberals) to put up a fair fight.

In any case, good chat as always.

One last question: Is Harper proposing and end of the Wheat Board, or simply allowing farmers to opt-out of the Wheat Board if they so choose?

I like debating with you.

Here is what the Winnipeg Free Press published on Sept. 6, 2006 on the question:
"The wheat board has been subjected to 11 separate U.S. trade attacks. The cry, as with lumber, has been 'unfair subsidies'. The U.S. doesn't just want to eliminate a formidable competitor on the world wheat market for its multinational agribusiness. It wants that agribusiness to capture the price advantage enjoyed by superior Canadian wheat. Despite polls showing 73 per cent of western wheat farmers support the board, the Harper government is, as in lumber, preparing to do the Americans' dirty work. It has begun the process to abolish the board's monopoly. All that is stopping it is the fact it lacks a majority and couldn't amend the current CWB Act. It requires a farmer plebiscite for any changes to the board's status.

Terry Pugh, spokesman for the National Farmers' Union, says a dual market kills the CWB because its monopoly seller position is precisely what earns farmers premium prices in global markets. The CWB's demise wouldn't just affect farmers but also have a ripple effect across the Canadian economy, closing the Port of Churchill, seriously impacting Thunder Bay and even the ports of Vancouver and Prince Rupert, he continues. Canadian grain would go south, be mixed with American grain and shipped through American ports. Canadian wheat, as a distinct commodity, would disappear. John Morriss, editor and publisher of the Farmers' Independent Weekly, says a dual market is a chimera. He asks farmers to recall the voluntary Central Selling Agency run by the pools in the 1920s and the voluntary CWB which began in 1935. Both had spectacular bankruptcies, likely the two biggest business failures in Canadian history. The voluntary CWB lost $62 million in 1938-39 -- an enormous sum at that time.

The reason a dual market won't work is obvious, Morriss continues. "If the open market is higher than the initial payment, the board gets few deliveries. If the initial payment is higher than the market, it gets the deliveries but has to sell at a loss.""

--Winnipeg Free Press, September 6, 2006


That was helpful, thanks. But, what if farmers were forced to either opt-in or opt-out (of the Wheat Board) for a period of time (maybe 5-10 years)? That would prevent them from selectively choosing either the open market or the board based on whichever would pay them more at each yield.

Is there some reason why this kind of compromise wouldn't work? I just have a problem with telling some farmers that they don't have the freedom to sell their grain for more, if such an opportunity exists. If so many farmers are in favour of the Wheat Board, they could all just choose to opt in for a period of time and it would maintain most of its buying power/market share.

I don't know, just throwin out ideas. It doesn't have to be a all or nothing deal, or does it?


I must say, I also love debating here. No matter how much we disagree, at least it's a debate. I say something, you actually read it, consider the arguments, and then try to rebut - and vice versa.

It's unfortunately quite rare. If you have a chance and a lot of patience, witness this "debate" I had over at CC... it was just absurd and one of the most frustrating experiences I've ever had.

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